I’m not the only single person in my circle of friends. I’m not even the only single mom. I am, however, the only person who hasn’t been on a date in a very long time. An epic length of time. You know the amount of time you have in your head right now? Multiply that times a couple of years. (Fine. Since before President Obama was elected.)
I’ve watched from the sidelines as friends have jumped into the world of online dating. I’ve listened to their stories from the front lines of the intersection of technology and relationships. Online dating seems stressful and 100 percent image-based, and just thinking about it makes me go into a panic. Dating is a scary unknown for me and the longer I avoid it the easier it becomes to let the concept of it fade away into oblivion.
Well-meaning friends have teased that I “just need to be brave and go for it.” If there is a lid for every pot, certainly there is someone out there for me. All I need to do is set up a profile. When these helpful friends started suggesting they would do the profile setting up for me I started making sure I never let my phone out of sight again.
I can’t do online dating. I can’t go on a date. I can’t just meet some guy. I can’t casually look for love. I’m a mom.
I come with a sidecar of fantastic in the shape of my 5-year-old son. My son is the most important person in my life. I just don’t get it. How on earth does a person approach the concept of dating at all when you are a single parent?
I can’t think about if a guy has crinkle eyes, whimsical facial hair, or how well he fills out a gray sweater. At the front of my mind has to be how will he treat my child? How will my child accept him? How will the dynamics work?
I know I am not alone with this sort of dating immobility. Recently fellow single mom from the block, Jennifer Lopez, opened up about her feelings about dating. Lopez has just published her first book, True Love, and she documents some of her most high-profile loves. Spoiler alert: Her children are her true loves.
The performer said she had a history of jumping into relationships but that didn’t work out so well for her. She now has put a pause on looking for love. Lopez says she is “not dating anybody. I’m not even looking for anybody.” Instead she wants to “be happy on my own. Me and my kids … then maybe somebody could come along and add to that happiness, but it’ll already be there.”
While I am thrilled to have some company on this single mama couch, what I really, truly need help with is figuring out when it’s time to get up. I made motherhood a priority over dating and having a relationship.
The choice just happened and now it’s like yoga pants. It’s so comfortable being single. I told myself I did it because it was best for my kid. How could some guy EVER be good enough? But I wonder.
I wonder how many of us single moms just put our hearts on lockdown mode because we’re so afraid of damaging our kids if we start dating. So we end up not dating at all. We put the wall up, lock the doors, and turn out the lights to our hearts and we try our best to convince ourselves that it’s what we want. This is for the best. This is putting our kids first.
I’ve been a single mom for as long as I’ve been a mom. As my son gets older, I’m realizing I’m hiding behind him and I feel — wow, this is hard to admit — but I feel ashamed.
Maybe it’s time to start knocking down some walls?
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Lopez via Twitter